Media release – Review identifies possible areas for future rootstock research

A new report, commissioned by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), identifies areas for potential future investment into grapevine rootstocks.

The report suggests three areas for any future research and development (R&D) investment into rootstocks by GWRDC, namely:

  • developing rapid screening techniques to select rootstocks with appropriate characteristics and, where gaps in rootstock performance are identified, undertake introductions or targeted breeding to address those gaps.
  • maintaining rootstock (and scion) source vines as ‘high health status’ and ensuring that the status is maintained through to the purchase of the planting material
  • ensuring relevant field evaluation information is available to assist in the selection of rootstocks for vineyard plantings

GWRDC commissioned the review of rootstock breeding and associated research and development in the viticulture and wine sector to identify gaps in research and identify areas for future R&D investment.

The report also summarises industry attitudes and the current use of rootstocks in Australia (including developments since the last comprehensive review back in 1994) and evaluates the relevance and significance of the current CSIRO Plant Industry rootstock breeding program.

‘Despite the slow uptake of rootstocks in Australia, the review highlighted the importance of further research with many growers indicating they were very interested in rootstocks for future plantings, especially following the effects of recent drought conditions’, said GWRDC Chair the Hon Rory McEwen.

‘Current economic conditions have constrained wide-spread replanting but it is expected that there will be an increased need for replanting over the next 10 or more years. As replanting increases, the sector needs to be ready with an appropriate selection of rootstocks that are high-quality, healthy planting material’, said Mr McEwen.

‘However any proposed future investment in grapevine rootstocks would need to be considered against potential investments in other areas to ensure the best possible return on investment for our levy payers’, Mr McEwen said.

Rootstocks – what they are

Grafted vines have been widely used in Australia for decades. They consist of a scion, the fruiting part of the vine, that is grafted to a stock, the rooted part of the vine (hence therootstock).

Individual rootstocks have different properties and a particular rootstock is selected for its combination of beneficial properties. Examples of beneficial properties include imparting desirable characteristics for grapevine growth, offering critical resistance to pests and diseases such as phylloxera and nematodes, and helping to manage salinity, drought, potassium uptake or vegetative growth.

The report, Rootstock breeding and associated R&D in the viticulture and wine industry, was prepared by John Whiting and is available from the GWRDC website here.

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GWRDC invests in and directs research, development and extension (RD&E) along the whole value chain ‘from vine to glass’ to support a competitive Australian wine sector.

We collaborate with our key stakeholders to coordinate and direct our investments to best address the sector’s RD&E priorities. GWRDC is funded by grapegrowers and winemakers, who pay levies on the annual winegrape crush, and the Australian Government, which provides matching funds.

For further information
Jen Russell, Communications Coordinator, GWRDC
t: 08 8273 0500